As generally we understand, salvation is the concept that God saves humanity from death, as part of His plan to provide for them an eternal life. As commonly conceived, God has both the will and the means to realize human salvation. Ultimate salvation means to become free from the worldly life and the cycles of birth and death. Human beings have two components: one spiritual, the soul and the other material, the body. Although the soul is immortal, one is bound to the body and hence subject to the cycles of birth and death, as long as there prevails ignorance of one’s real identity, The fundamental basis of this cycle is the law of karma. It is the law of cause and effect and it applies to all human beings equally. It is a natural law according to which every one must undergo the effect of one’s own actions.
Everyone must reap what he sows. It is a force that perpetuates one’s bondage to the worldly life. The causative factor which becomes an integral part of this force is one’s false identification with one’s body; with one’s belief of ‘I am this body and everything related to the body is mine’. Hence here there is not only ignorance of the real Self, but also an attachment to this ignorance. This verily is the ego. Inherent in this false belief is also the belief of ‘I am the doer’; hence every action carried out with these beliefs supports the laws of karma and consequently falls under its ‘jurisdiction’. One’s behavior or action irrevocably leads to an appropriate reward or punishment commensurate with that behavior.
As long as there is ignorance about one’s true self, all efforts towards liberation or salvation are in vain because to become a doer of anything subjects one to the laws of karma; hence all actions performed even for the purpose of liberation in themselves become a source of bondage. Upon acquiring self realization, bondage of new karma comes to an end. One’s identification with the physical self and all its worldly attachment comes to an end. The ego that was nothing but an accumulation of wrong beliefs becomes annihilated. Thus breaks a link to the otherwise inviolable law of karma. After Self realization, a sense of true liberation is experienced in this very lifetime. This experience is the first stage of liberation. Thereafter all that remains is the dissolution of the pending effects of all one’s past karmas. Once all karma effects are exhausted, the ultimate liberation, salvation or moksha becomes a rite of undeniable reward.
Most human beings live life but they do not have the ultimate goal of human life. Some live to make a fortune, some live for professional success, some live to simply raise a family, some live to help others and some live a life of penance and austerities. Many spend their entire life solving financial, family or personal problems but before long, and sometimes suddenly, living comes to an end. A human life must not be wasted away aimlessly. One must have a goal and that goal must be to acquire knowledge of our real Self and attain salvation. A secondary goal must be to live life helping others. If nothing else, then in the very least one must make sure that while living, he or she does not hurt any living being in the slightest degree. Everything else is a waste of time and energy.
Many people do have the aim of attaining God, however in order to do so; they must know the true nature of God. Just by chanting God’s name and spending fifteen minutes a day in front of an idol of God does not lead to God realization. For that matter, no other rituals or practice of austerities will either. To realize God you need a living teacher. When the spiritual teacher through his grace bestows Self realization (knowledge of the Soul) upon you, only then do you acquire true awareness of God. God is the pure Soul within every living being and a direct connection of worship is established when one becomes one with the Soul. The devotional rituals seen everywhere in the world are all forms of indirect worship. However, direct worship is necessary for salvation.
Life after life one has wished for Salvation (Moksha), but one’s resolve for salvation has not been strong enough. If it were then whether it is attained or not, the awareness of the aim itself will help one attain his goal. After acquiring Self realization, one’s own salvation and the world’s salvation must be the only wish. If salvation is your aim in life, then it must be approached through the spiritual teacher’s understanding. Any other understanding will inevitably lead you on the wrong path and more karmic entanglements. Only the spiritual teacher can give you the exact explanation and understanding of all the Lord’s scriptures. Only the Spiritual teacher can answer all questions with regards to spirituality and liberation, because only he has the exact knowledge of spiritual science and the universal truth. Not only can he answer all your questions but he can also give you the experience of the universal truth; your real nature which is the Soul within you. This verily is Self realization.
The Spiritual teacher makes us understand the true nature of the goal of human life. The ultimate goal of human life is to be totally free, however there is a process involved in getting there. First one must acquire knowledge of one’s real Self. This knowledge however, can only be acquired from a living Spiritual teacher, who is completely Self-realized and only such a person can bestow upon others, the same knowledge. So rare is the presence of such enlightened beings on earth, that on the chance when there is a presence of a living Spiritual teacher, one should seize the opportunity of getting one’s spiritual goal fulfilled without delay. Salvation has several different aspects which represent substantial conceptual differences.
1. Absolute salvation simply indicates those concepts which assert that all will be saved. Conditional salvation refers to the dominant concepts of salvation to which are attached certain conditions: Monotheists all believe in some form of conditional salvation, most in agreement that salvation is based on goodness, while punishment is given to evil.
2. Universal salvation (or “reconciliation”) indicates a concept of salvation in which God’s love and salvation for human beings is not bound by human concepts such as belief, tradition, religion, and practice, but rather by love and goodness which are considered universal principles.
3. Special salvation (or particular salvation) refers to concepts which are narrow and exclusive, particularly based on doctrinal grounds.
4. Proprietary salvation is a theological pun that characterizes certain particular doctrines and concepts as asserting ownership of God’s love and salvation.
According to most religious beliefs, salvation is prescribed only for those who are judged worthy of everlasting life.
Christian salvation concepts are varied and complicated by certain theological concepts, traditional beliefs, and dogmas. Scripture is subject to individual and ecclesiastical interpretations. Therefore, Christian soteriology ranges from exclusive salvation to universal reconciliation concepts. Catholics believe that Jesus the Christ brought about redemption from sin and assert that salvation is possible only in the Roman Catholic Church. This doctrine remains, but is not always articulated in such clear language. Modern teaching usually uses language similar to the following: Jesus was a divine sacrifice who brought about redemption for all mankind.Roman Catholics believe, “Man stands in need of salvation from God”, and “Divine help comes to him in Christ through the law that guides him and the grace that sustains him.”
Protestants hold to the five solas of the Reformation, which declare salvation to be by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone. Some Protestants understand this to mean that God saves solely by grace and that works follow as a necessary consequence of saving grace while others believe that salvation is rigidly by faith alone without any reference to works whatsoever, while still others believe that salvation is by faith alone but that salvation can be forfeited if it is not accompanied by continued faith and the works that naturally follow from it.
Calvinists, who adhere to Lordship salvation, further understand the doctrines of salvation to include (but not limited to) the five points of Calvinism, all of which contrast sharply with Arminiansim. In the Calvinist system, all people are born sinful and thus are in need of God to save them. God’s plan of salvation included the appointing of the elect before the foundation of the world, according to His sovereign good pleasure. The entire process of being born again (or regeneration) is performed solely by the Holy Spirit prior to the person exercising faith, and, indeed, the doctrine of total inability says that faith is impossible apart from such divine intervention. All the elect necessarily persevere in faith because God keeps them from falling away. Thus, the Calvinist system is called monergism because God alone acts to bring about salvation.
Universalism agrees with both Calvinists and Arminians that men are born in sin and in need of salvation. They also believe that one is saved by Jesus Christ. However, they emphasize that judgment in hell upon sinners is of limited duration, and that God uses judgment to bring sinners to repentance.
Death and the question of life after death are not central concerns in Judaism. Nevertheless, the Pharisees and their successors, Rabbinic Judaism, taught that “every Jew has a share in the world to come” , and also that “the righteous people of other (non-Jewish) nations…”, those who follow the elementary morals embodied in the Seven Noahide Laws, “…have a share in the world to come” Although a person who sins may be punished either in this world or the next, punishment in the next world is in most cases limited in duration to 12 months. Complete loss of a share in the afterlife (or, alternatively, eternal punishment is imposed for only a small number of very serious sins, most of which have to do with heresy. Even then a person can regain his share in the world to come through repentance and atonement.
Unlike Christianity, Islam does not conceive man as “a sinful being to whom the message of Heaven is sent to heal the wound of the original sin.”. According to the Qur’an, God created man in the best stature, with an intelligence capable of knowing the One. Islam teaches that men and women carry within themselves a primordial nature (al-fitrah) which they have forgotten and is now buried deep under layers of negligence. Salvation according to Islam is therefore remembrance, recollection, and confirmation of a knowledge deeply embedded in the very substance of our being.
Adherents of Hinduism, Buddism, Jainism and Sikhism do not believe in salvation in the sense understood by most Westerners. They do not focus on Hell or Heaven, but on knowledge. They believe in reincarnation (Buddhism rebirth) after death. According to this belief, one’s actions or karma allow one to be reborn as a higher or lower being. If one is evil and has a multitude of bad actions, one is likely to be reborn as a lower being. If one has a multitude of good actions or karma, one is likely to be reborn as a higher being, perhaps a human with higher status or in a higher caste. Eventually, however, one is able to escape from the cycle of death and rebirth, through the attainment of the highest spiritual state. This state is called “moksha” in Hinduism, Sach Khand in Sikhism, Nirvana in Jainism and Buddism. This state is not one of individual happiness but often a merging of oneself with collective existence. Sometimes, as with Nirvana, it is a liberation from the existence.
In Hinduism, salvation is the soul’s liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth and attainment of the highest spiritual state. It is the ultimate goal of Hinduism, where even hell and heaven are temporary. This is called moksha or liberation. Moksha is a final release from one’s worldly conception of self, the loosening of the shackles of experiential duality and a re-establishment in one’s own fundamental nature, though the nature is seen as ineffable and beyond sensation. The actual state is seen differently depending on school of thought. Moksha is achieved when the individual Atman unites with the ground of all being – the source of all phenomenal existence — Brahman through practice of Yoga. Hinduism recognizes several paths to achieve this goal, none of which is exclusive. The paths are the way of selfless work (Karma Yoga), of self-dissolving love (Bhakti Yoga), of absolute discernment & knowledge (Jnana Yoga) or of ‘royal’ meditative immersion (Raja Yoga).
In Buddhism, Liberation or Nirvana is seen as an end to suffering, rebirth, and ignorance. Buddhism doesn’t have a concept of original sin, or innate personal corruption/pollution, as is found in Christianity. The noble truths outline some of Buddist soteriology: they describe suffering and its causes, the possibility of its cessation, and the way to its cessation. The means of achieving liberation are further developed in other Buddhist teachings.
In Jainism, Moksa or Nirvana means liberation, salvation or emancipation of soul. It is a blissful state of existence of a soul, completely free from the karmic bondage, free from the cycle of birth and death. A liberated soul is said to have attained its true and pristine nature of infinite bliss, infinite knowledge and infinite perception. Such a soul is called siddha or paramatman and considered as supreme soul or God. In Jainism, it is the highest and the noblest objective that a soul should strive to achieve. It fact, it is the only objective that a person should have; other objectives are contrary to the true nature of soul. With right faith, knowledge and efforts all souls can attain this state. According to Jainism, moksa or liberation can be attained only in the human birth. Even the demi-gods and heavenly beings have to re-incarnate as humans and practice right faith, knowledge and conduct to achieve liberation. According to Jainism, human birth is quite rare and invaluable and hence a man should make his choices wisely.
In Sikhism, Salvation means ending the cycle of death and rebirth and thus merging oneself with the Infinite Formless God. According to Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism,the goal of the human is to have union with God and for this the Sikhs are to conquer their ego and thus realizing their true nature which is the same as God. There are five spiritual stages through which the Sikhs go through reaching the final stage of having union with God.
1. Dharam Khand: The realm of Righteous action.
2. Gian Khand: The realm of Knowledge.
3. Saram Khand: The realm of Spiritual endeavor.
4. Karam Khand: The realm of Grace.
5. Sach Khand: The realm of Truth.
According to Sikhism, moksa or liberation can be attained only in the human birth. Even the demi-gods and heavenly beings have to re-incarnate as humans and practice right faith, knowledge and conduct to achieve liberation. According to Sikhism, human birth is quite rare and invaluable and hence a man should make his choices wisely.
In course of time, a majority of the people started to attach significance to salvation and developed a number of techniques for self-salvation to adopt them in the hour of need. Some of them can be enumerated as below:
Communicating with Divinity: Why?
We tend to remember God, when we think we need the Almighty the most at a time of our difficulties. Most of the problems and difficulties that come upon us are created by some other fellow human beings; and we try to either conquer the difficulty or the individual who we believe has caused it. Praying the right way helps us overcome this situation. We must take out time to pray. One need’s to regularly take out time to pray. We don’t forget to wear clothes or eat; similarly we should make prayer a part of our daily routine. Prayer is a way of communicating with God about our well being as well as our problems.
How to Pray?
As such no time is auspicious or inauspicious, Morning or night is the best time – to communicate with God. At this time there is generally less commotion and external disturbance. This helps us to pray with better focus and concentration.
Mantra Diction and Pronunciation is not as important as the intention and purpose for which we pray. Therefore, whichever mantra you chant, please do so with full devotion. Do not worry about the pronunciation, because if you are fully engrossed while praying, you will not be aware of the pronunciation part. This is because your mind would be on God and not on the mantra. One should realize that the mantra is a vehicle and not the destination.
We must pray to the soul of the person who we think has caused us problems.Definitely we should not curse the person who has caused us the problem. We may relax and pray to his soul to forgive us and apologize for our actions that have consciously or unconsciously hurt him and in result he had created the problem for us. We must pray not for the problem to disappear – but to grant us knowledge of the reason it arose in the first place. Thoughtless problems and solutions are temporary; however, thoughtful solutions are permanent. This is because when we realize the cause of the problem consciously, we would never want to repeat it and hence will never be intimidated by it.
Lastly, we must pray for the entire world that the problem which has troubled us should not bother anyone else. We may end our prayer by asking the Almighty to bring peace and prosperity to everyone in this world.
Meditate over the problem or challenge
No action is perfect. Every material action has its fallouts, problems and challenges. Even after praying deeply, we will certainly have a few impediments that we would want to deal with effectively. The impediments that have come our way can be resolved by meditating over them.
We may sit quietly in a place that assures complete peace till the time we do not got the answer. We must meditate over the problem by just surrendering the problem to God and continuously searching out the reason why it happened and if we are responsible ourselves. Also let the thoughts related to our impending problem keep coming naturally to us. After a while we may get a concrete direction and answer by the Divine. We also need to show patience and full faith in the whole exercise.
Act on a Meditative Solution Indicator
Now the solution provided to us through our meditative approach can make us skeptical about the solution, especially, if we are doing this for the first time. Therefore, we shouldn’t hesitate to evaluate and circumspect the solution given to us. To our surprise we may not only find the solution flawless but our evaluating it will help us get more involved in it. This will help us to even come out with a micro level solution. Of course once we have tried and tested this method we will never think of questioning it again. We may implement the solution and surrender it to God.
Once we act and implement the solution with full energy and honesty, completely surrender our act to God and this time we should not question the result. The result that we would get is what we deserve and not that you desire. We must remember human accounts can go wrong; God’s accounts can never go wrong. This also means the result will depend upon the intensity with which we surrender our actions to God and with what honesty we execute it.
Now we may thank God for choosing us as a medium for executing what we executed so successfully and beautifully. The more we do this entire act of praying – the more aware we become of ourselves and the Divine powers.
Be Happy – We May Try Self Salvation.